A lot of electric motorcycles are beginning to appear, especially in the last several months, and all of them are fairly light weight but at the same time fairly short range. The limiting factor isn’t the electric motor or controller, it’s the batteries. How do you get enough storage to give you decent range? The somewhat pricey but powerful lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries do a pretty decent job but these little motocross type bikes don’t give you much room to pack everything away so they all suffer from the same limitations, after 45 miles or so, you’re done. The Enertia is a nice looking little commuter but still, range is the issue.
Over in the auto world, the Tesla Roadster has been making quite a splash, 0-60 in 4 seconds and 200 miles per charge. Yes, it’s expensive, there are a whole lot of batteries in there, but that’s the whole point. You get the performance and range because you have the batteries. Why is everyone working on little bikes? What kind of motorcycle would have the room for lots of batteries? How about something like a Gold Wing? It may be heavier than a little MX bike but still a lot lighter than a car. With the full fairing, the batteries could be installed and still be visually unobtrusive and you would have the room for enough batteries to give you decent range plus snappy performance.
Would it be expensive? You bet. But would it sell? In limited numbers, I think so. Many of the same big buck celebrities ready to buy the Tesla would line up for one of these. If they’re looking for a motorcycle these days they might pick up a Confederate Hellcat or something similar but an electric motorcycle with performance and range plus all of the green factor the environmental crowd is looking for, would show up on the celebrity radar as a must have. Sell enough of those bikes to that crowd and then a few well to do non-celebrities start to buy them and pretty soon you have electric motorcycles entering the public consciousness in a bigger way. If the motorcycle is a success the lessons learned and economies of scale begin to lower prices and the snowball begins to roll.
Many critics of electric vehicles, cars or motorcycles, point out their lengthy recharge time which is a lot longer than filling up at a gas station. Over on the Tesla website they draw an analogy to charging your cell phone:
How Long Does Your Cell Phone Take to Charge? If you’re like most people, you can’t answer this question. You plug in your phone every night, and it’s fully charged in the morning. You never think about how long it took so long as the charge lasts throughout the next day. Once you get into the habit, that”s the way you’ll feel about your Tesla Roadster; every morning you’ll wake up to a fully charged car, ready for whatever is on the day’s agenda.
Well, if your motorcycle has sufficient range to get you through a normal day’s activities, you could look at it in the same way. Plug it in every night, just like your cell phone, and ride through your normal day. An electric motorcycle the size of a Gold Wing or some other similar sized touring bike, might be able to do that.
The high price of a bike like this, due to the batteries, will initially keep it out of the hands of the majority of motorcycle riders but few riders can buy a Hellcat, a Desmosedici RR or even some of the more common but costly customs yet they are manufactured and sold. Price is not the issue here. Availability is.
If a company like Tesla can build a car with high performance and decent range, it seems to me the potential exists for a larger motorcycle to get much of the same performance and range. It would be interesting to see someone try.